NEW YORK — Syracuse offensive lineman Justin Pugh was on hand at the Pinstripe Bowl media day at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night. We had a chance to catch up with him and here’s what he had to say:
Q: Is it strange playing West Virginia in a bowl game?
A: This is kind of a Big East rivalry. We’ve been playing these guys my whole career. I’ve never lost to West Virginia while I’ve been playing so hopefully we can keep it going that way. But it’s exciting. We’re just ready to get out there and play.
Q: When you see these guys afterward, is that when the trash talking is going to start?
A: No, actually, coming in on the train, a couple of West Virginia guys were on the train and I was shaking their hands and introducing myself. At the end of the day, we’re all out there, just regular guys playing football. Before this, a lot of these guys played together, we’re from a similar area, the northeast, a lot of these guys played high school football against each other. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s just another game to us.
Q: You see that West Virginia has struggled this season. Do you look at this an opportunity for a big offensive game?
A: Maybe you see there is potential there to have a big game, but if we don’t execute, and do what we have to do, you can never put those points on the board. If you go, ‘Hey, they’re 115 or 110 in the country,” we’re going to be able to throw all over them, we’re going to be able to do whatever we want’ if you go in with that mentality… every time you get yourself up in this game, it always brings you back down. So you got to make sure you have to that level headedness. I think that’s something that coach Marrone does a great job of doing. We’re all the same page. We don’t get too high, we don’t get too low. You kinda just keep that even keel.
Q: How important is it to end the season on a high note?
A: Winning five out of six was great. That’s in the past. We have to go out there and finish this game, finish this season the way we want to. Coach Atkins, our offensive line coach was like, ‘You’re not going to remember that five game stretch, every game, what happened. This last game, you’re going to remember every single play, everything that happened.’ Especially for these seniors, it’s their last game, the last time they’re going to put on the Orange uniform, so it’s something I take pride in, to send those guys out as winners.